Council OKs $4.3M to police annexed land in Leduc County
'I wasn’t convinced that it was only about annexation,' Coun. Bev Esslinger says
City police will have just over $4 million extra in the coming years to patrol more land when Edmonton annexes part of Leduc County.
On Tuesday, council gave the green light for $1.8 million in 2018 and another $2.4 million in 2019.
Deputy police chief Brian Simpson said he's thankful for the support.
"It is significant in terms of getting officers trained," he said Tuesday. "It takes a fair amount of time to put them through the process so this basically ensures by Jan. 1 2019, we'll be able to deliver services and move forward with this."
Councillors debated the costs at several meetings but the majority, including Mayor Don Iveson, concluded that the request is reasonable.
"It amounts to about a one per cent increase in their $400 million budget," Iveson pointed out.
"This will keep the police whole, as the boundary of the city and the area of the city grows by about 13 per cent," Iveson said.
The city plans to take over an area around 50th Street, between Beaumont and Edmonton, as well as another stretch of land between the city and the Edmonton International Airport.
Couns. Tim Cartmell and Bev Esslinger did not support the request.
"I wasn't convinced that it was only about annexation," Esslinger said. "It seemed like we have other pressure points, particularly in the southwest on response time."
A report released last month shows police still struggle with meeting their target of responding to priority one calls within seven minutes, 80 per cent of the time.
The report shows police hit the target only 72 per cent of the time.
"Time and distance becomes a challenge in terms of response," Simpson admitted, while insisting police will still aim for the same response times in the newly-annexed area.
He rejected the idea that the police would use the new money to beef up existing patrols.
"Policing is a complex business," he said. "We are a growing city."
Esslinger said she asked for more information on rural policing but council hasn't received that yet. That report is now expected in the fall, she said.
"I think we'll have a bigger policing conversation in the future."